Guardianship - What is it?

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Father and son

Sometimes, no matter how much parents love their child, it is better for the child to live with someone else.

In California, when the court gives custody of a child under the age of 18, or the child's property, or both, to an adult caregiver, this is called a legal guardianship. The guardian then has the authority to make decisions for the young child that a parent would normally make. The guardian also assumes certain duties and obligations regarding the child's care and control. 

In this section you will find information about what to do if:

Each topic will help you understand what to do:

BEFORE starting a guardianship case

DURING a legal proceeding if you are the person asking to be a guardian

DURING a legal proceeding if someone wants to become your child's guardian

AFTER a legal proceeding

Note:  If there's an emergency, temporary guardianship Opens new window  papers may be granted even before the hearing for permanent guardianship. To learn how to ask the court to appoint a temporary guardian, click here.

This section also has answers for your Frequently Asked Questions about guardianship, and information about the forms you will need for your case.

To view some short videos with general information about how California's court system works, click here. Opens new window

To get the information you need to get started, you can use the "drop down" menu at the left side of this page, or you can click on the "Next" button at the bottom of the page.


This website’s general information is very helpful for everyone in California.
To find your county court’s website to learn about extra forms or procedures, click here.


Did this information help you?  Tell us what you think.

If you want help finding what you need, you can email us at virtualselfhelp@contracosta.courts.ca.gov.

You will receive a response within one week.